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    Gender Reveal!

    We had another prenatal appointment last week. The technician did an anatomy scan and we found out the gender of our baby!

    We didn’t do a gender reveal party, but I created this Old Wives’ Tales graphic and posted it on Facebook. It was interesting how close the tallies were between boy and girl! (You can download a generic version of the Old Wives’ Tales Chart in my Etsy shop.)


    Baby Gender Old Wives' Tales


    I don’t believe any of these are actually telling about baby’s gender. Even though I haven’t had any nausea, David’s mom was sick the entire time for each of her five boys. My mom craved orange juice with my brothers. I will admit I tried the baking soda test, and that one happened to be accurate. I attempted to use the Ramzi Theory with photos from my earliest ultrasound, but it was after the fact and I wasn’t sure about the angle.

    David guessed boy, because that’s what he knows with four brothers. I guessed girl, but really had no clue.

    We found out we’re having a…


    20 weeks gender reveal - it's a girl!


    Girl!!! She’ll be the first girl grandchild on my side and the third grandgirl on David’s side.

    Everything is looking healthy. She measured a little small at the anatomy scan, but still within normal range. In the last week, I’ve felt a LOT of movement! David has also felt kicks with his hand on my stomach.

    And because why not, here’s a survey:

    • How far along? 20 weeks
    • Total weight gain: 5.8 pounds
    • Gender: Girl!
    • Name? We think we’ve chosen a first name, but won’t share until after she’s arrived.
    • Sleep: I’ve been sleeping through the night, but it’s hard to get comfortable! I’m using three pillows at the moment.
    • Exercise: I count the fact that I walk a lot here as exercise. I try to do a yoga video a couple times a week.
    • Best moment this week: Hearing that baby girl is doing well and sharing the gender with our family.
    • Movement: YES! Finally! Lots of movement and the occasional jab here and there.
    • Symptoms: Maybe a little fatigue, but overall feeling great. Lots of trips to the bathroom.
    • Food cravings: Fruit, juice, smoothies.
    • Food aversions: No real aversions.
    • Maternity clothes: I’ve used a belly band a handful of times with a pair of jeans. So far, I’ve gotten away with stretchy pants, skirts, and dresses. I have a feeling that I’ll soon be needing to use some of my official maternity wear!
    • What I miss: I feel very fortunate and at the risk of complaining – lying on my stomach to do computer work and coffee drinks. (Even though I’m not a coffee addict, there’s something comforting about a warm cup. Fortunately, there’s no Pumpkin Spice lattes in Korea to tempt me this fall. Unfortunately, they don’t sell decaf here either.)
    • Belly button in or out? Still in… but it’s more open?
    • Stretch marks? Nothing major that I can tell yet. I should probably start moisturizing though.
    • Milestones: We’re at the halfway point as of this past Monday!

    Keep growing, Baby Girl!


    Our Next Adventure…

    We’ve been keeping a secret and are excited to finally share… we are expecting our first child February 13!!


    We are expecting our first child in February!


    How We (I) Found Out
    After finishing our first school year in Korea, we traveled back to the States in early June for summer vacation. We landed into Chicago. David flew out a few hours later to Virginia for a grad school class, and I spent a couple of nights in Chicago with my cousins. Seoul air quality had attacked me once again and I was sick with a sinus infection. Despite hacking up a lung, I had a great time with the girls.

    Next, I flew to Arkansas next to see my mom. We stayed a few nights at a camp to help with a VBS program. The sinus infection had spread to one of my eyes, and I finally went to a clinic and got a round of antibiotics.

    It was relief to finally have meds and be back at my mom’s house. We went to Walmart to do a little shopping. At this point, I didn’t think I was pregnant, but I was late. I knew travel and sickness could throw things off, and on a whim in the cosmetics area, I grabbed a pregnancy test. It was 88¢ and I figured it’d be good to know. When I met back up with Mom, I told her, “Don’t get your hopes up.” I waited a couple of days before I took the test.

    I took the test early one morning because I had woken up to use the bathroom. It was around 4:00 am. Imagine my surprise when a second line quickly appeared! I woke up Mom to confirm that it wasn’t just me and we marveled for a while before trying to go back to sleep.


    Positive pregnancy test


    David was in Virginia, and it was almost a week until I would see him again! It was hard to keep it a secret, but we didn’t talk a lot over that time. He was super busy with his class and only had cell service when there was WiFi. I did tell him that when I saw him I had a surprise for him and that I’d made him something.

    Before Mom and I drove to Virginia for David’s brother’s wedding, I put the test in a small box. Then I put that box in a larger box. The apps I downloaded gave me an estimated due date of February 14, so I cut out a construction paper heart, wrote “Will you be my Valentine?” and put that on top of the smaller box. (I wish I had taken a picture of it, but it’s back in the States.)

    Amidst the chaos of everyone arriving in Virginia on the same day, David and I were able to slip away at the end of the night. When he opened the first box, nothing registered. “Of course I’ll be your Valentine,” he said. And then he opened the smaller box. It was priceless to watch the realization and smile wash across his face. He was shocked!


    The Rest of the Summer
    After the excitement of the wedding, we slowly began to share the news with our family. We loved being able to tell them in person and have them join in the celebration.

    We told everyone in batches and didn’t have a grand plan of how to announce the news. We tried to be creative when the right moment presented itself. With David’s family, we went to a Chinese restaurant and David made a slip to put inside a fortunate cookie. With my sister, we were joking about Southern stereotypes on the back porch and I told her, “Well, at least I’ve got the barefoot and pregnant thing going.” When we saw my Dad, we were taking group pictures. I acted like I was taking a photo while videoing and said, “Ok, 1, 2, 3, say ‘Leah’s pregnant’!” We had fun with it.

    I’ve been so fortunate and haven’t had any morning sickness – just LOTS of fatigue! I wasn’t much of one for naps before, but I’ll take one now every chance I get.

    We had our first prenatal appointment in the States. I know seeing isn’t always believing, but watching our little one on the screen made it feel more real!


    10 week ultrasound


    Back in Korea
    We had our second appointment in Korea. Baby B was squirming all around and gave us a show. We asked the technician if she could tell us the gender, but Baby didn’t give us a good look. She gave us a guess, but told us it was unconfirmed and that we’d be able to tell at our next appointment.


    15 week ultrasound


    We marvel every day at how my belly grows bit by bit and are praying over his or her life!


    Answers to FAQ

    • We will have the baby in Korea at an awesome birthing center.
    • Baby will not have Korean citizenship – just US citizenship.
    • As long as everything’s healthy, we hope to travel home for Christmas and the summer.
    • My mom is planning to come to Korea for the birth and David’s parents hope to visit in April.
    • Your guess is as good as ours – we have no clue if the baby will have red hair. 🙂



    Happily Vector After

    I’ve designed illustrated portraits for a couple of projects lately. I’ve been having a lot of fun creating them, so I thought I’d open up a digital shop for the holidays!


    Custom Illustrated Portrait Design


    Christmas is just around the corner! These vector portraits make great Christmas cards or gifts!

    If you’re interested in a custom portrait, please check out or message me at happilyvectorafter {at} gmail {dot} com.



    Benedicts in Turkey: Ankara

    Even though the family drove from Istanbul to Ankara and got into the apartment around 3:00 am, they were troopers and woke up for church the next (same?) morning. It was the last Sunday David led worship. It was an emotional service. We were excited to introduce our family to our Turkey family, but we also had another round of goodbyes. The service included three baptisms, which was a joy to celebrate!


    David playing guitar at church


    After church, we had lunch at Arjantin Kebap, one of our favorites. It was the family’s first taste of Turkish food and çay.


    Lunch at Arjantin Kebap


    After lunch, we showed them our local pazar. We picked up a few goodies, though not a lot since we had a two-week trip ahead of us. They got a kick out of the vacuum accessories for sale.


    Balgat Pazar vegetables


    Pazar vacuum parts


    They napped that afternoon, the boys played sports at the school, and we spent the evening with some friends. We had showed them around the farm in Michigan two summers ago, so it was fun for the families to connect on the other side of the globe. During sports, someone made the comment: “The Benedict boys are a lot like the Puckett boys!” We enjoyed an evening of fellowship and the guys played a few dangerous rounds of sting pong. I’ll spare you the photos.


    Benedicts and Pucketts


    The next day, we put everyone on a dolumuş and took them to Ulus. Our friend Rex came with us. We showed them the Temple of Augustus, had manti and gözleme at Certioğlu Konağı Kafeterya, and walked up to the castle. We finished our time in Ulus with shopping at Yöre for pottery. David left us early to get the rental car, picked us up and took us back to the apartment.


    Ride in a dolmus


    Ulus street markets


    Lunch in Ulus




    Mom waving on the Ankara Castle


    Benedicts in the Ulus Castle


    Boys overlooking Ankara


    Rooftops in Ulus, Ankara


    Ulus metal workers


    It was fun for us to see Turkey through our family’s eyes. For Dad, Sam, and Ben, it was their first time over the Pacific and it was Ben’s first time out of the country.

    That evening, we packed up as much as we could before our drive to Göreme (Cappadocia) in the morning!



    Goodbye, Blue

    I had to say goodbye to one of my oldest and dearest friends on Saturday. My sister had been taking care of our cat and he got very sick. The vet said he most likely had a stroke. He was 19 years old.

    I first met Blue in Arkansas at my grandma’s house. Blue and his litter were born just a couple of weeks before we got there. There was a gray kitten, a black kitten, and three brown ones. My cousin, sister, and I spent two weeks doting on them. I was 8 and Mary was 5. I fell in love and Blue was my favorite. At the time, we called him Baby Blue because his eyes were blue and his fur was so silvery-gray it was almost blue. Grandma called him Blue Boy. At the end of our visit, I remember backing out of Grandma’s driveway crying and crying.


    Gray cat


    By some miracle, we finally convinced Mom and Dad to let us get a pet other than a fish. Mom went to visit Grandma later that year and brought Blue back with her. We were beyond excited and I carried him through the terminal.

    I wish I had more pictures of his kitten days. We have oh so many, but that was before things went digital. My mom took a photo of one of the photos and sent it to me… this is Mary playing tea party with water and Blue:


    Mary having a tea party with a kitten


    He was a cultured cat – he always came into the music room when I was practicing. I’ll never forget how he’d wince when I played a sour note on the violin. Ha!

    I guess he used up all of his nine lives. He’s fallen off the roof because of a window screen popping out and lived the last decade with kidney disease. Sometimes I thought Mom might kill him because he broke too many of her hens on a nest and Christmas ornaments. Even though he drove us crazy sometimes, he was a major part of my childhood and our family and I will miss him very much.

    Blue had a white heart on his tummy:


    Gray cat heart tummy


    Leah with her cat


    Gray cat lounging


    Gray cat in the light


    David and Blue


    This was the last time I saw him in December 2014:


    Leah's last time with Blue


    The vet made a paw print for my sister after they put him down. Such a sweet gesture.


    Blue's pawprint


    Goodbye, Blue Babe. I’ll miss you.



    Benedict Family 2014

    This winter was the first time in a couple of years that all of David’s family was in Michigan. And it was the first Christmas we had with our sweet little nephew and niece! Even though we were home for only a short while, we were able to squeeze in a family photo.


    Benedict Family Winter 2014


    We took the photo New Years Eve Day (Dad’s birthday!) and it was freezing outside. Our friend Deanna Clark braved the cold with us and did an amazing job. It was probably one of the quickest photo sessions ever! The farm has so many interesting areas for pictures. I love that our photographer incorporated sap buckets since the family produces maple syrup.

    We’re so thankful for the time we spend with family!



    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    We set up our Christmas tree last night and put up a few Thanksgiving decorations as well. Some of our friends had us over for dinner this week, and we made some thankful turkeys with them. The stuffed animal is actually a hat. David wore it to school on Wednesday and the kids got a kick out of it.


    Thanskgiving in the living room


    The pies are made, turkey is in the oven, and soon we’ll be enjoying a feast. I am also so excited to have my mom in Turkey for this Thanksgiving!

    There is so much I am thankful for, it’s hard to even begin! Most of all, I am thankful for my family and friends and the love, mercy, and forgiveness from my God and Savior.

    Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34